The Government is apparently pledging money to campaign against smacking children. I've seen this discussed on two parenting forums today and it's really affecting me! I'm all for a campaign against smacking. Smacking children is abuse, but it isn't properly legislated against. Apparently, it's illegal to strike a child above the shoulders, and it's illegal to harm a child physically, but some distinction is currently made for corporal discipline, whereby it's acceptable to smack your child on the bottom with your hand as a form of discipline.
The vast majority of parents admit to doing this very occassionally when nothing else is working, or working fast enough. The example often trotted out is to warn a child against repeating physically threatening behaviours, such as running onto the road or touching a light stove top, that sort of thing.
As I've said here many, many times, I struggle with gentle and respectful discipline. I have often smacked my children, mostly Erik. I continue to do so. I struggle against doing this, and am in counselling, primarly to put a stop to this abusive relationship I have with Erik and Luey (I don't smack Bryn, I don't have that impulse with babies or young toddlers, though I did smack both Erik and Luey once or twice before their second birthdays)...
These holidays, I've smacked again. I've threatened smacking A LOT. I haven't seen my counsellor in over three weeks, which might be part of why I've smacked more in the past week than in the past couple of months, but also, the kids and I haven't had the break from one another that we get when they go to school.
I really loathe myself for abusing my children like this, and don't accept any justifications others might want to make on my behalf, like how everyone does it sometimes, and I'm really a very good mother. I know what I do is negatively affecting my relationship with my children and their self-esteem, and I am sickened by that.
So, why do I continue to give in to the impulse to physically assault my small, innocent children? I really wish I could answer than, because if I could I could then control that impulse, I believe. I know I do it not because of them, they don't make me do it. I choose to do it. Part of that choice is needing that physical release of built up adrenalin, I'm aware of that. So, why not punch a wall, or something else? Well, I do, most times I do redirect that need to physicall attack something - not that that saves my kids from being afraid, but it saves them physical pain, I guess.
I sometimes try to think what I would do in this situation if it was Dave, but see with Dave I can always communicate my frustration. In the face of the kids, I don't feel heard at all. I want them to acknowledge me, to remember my words. That is the frustration I feel.
It comes down to control, and so sometimes when I've attacked a child physically, I actually become enraged simply because I lost control again.
I've played with the idea of letting go of the need to control my children. Respecting them like I would respect (but not necessarily like) another adults right to make decisions that impact negatively on me. The thing is, with other adults, I can just walk away, and abdicate any responsibility. I can't do that with my kids. Society expects me to have some influence and control over them. I most often feel like I have none of either. I feel trapped by the sense of having all the responsibility and none of the control.
So that's parenting I hear some of you say. That's what I signed up for when I got pregnant. I don't disagree. I don't know how other people do it. I don't know how other people maintain control over their rage, their frustration, their dispair, in the face of their children's contrary choices. Are my children extraordinary trying? Am I extraordinarily impatient or demanding? Maybe one or both of those are true? I almost hope so, because then there is a solution to my situation. If not, then how can I hope to ever become the gentle, trustworthy parent my children deserve?
I don't think parents smack to be mean to their kids. I don't. I hate myself for my lack of self-control. I know smacking is wrong. I want to stop doing it. I don't know how any Govt. education program will help me though...
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